A top White House economic adviser testified on how lawmakers can improve economic growth Wednesday during a congressional hearing.
Kevin Hassett is an economist who currently serves as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). The executive office agency advises the president on economic policy. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) convened a hearing to ask him where the economy is headed and how can it be improved.
President Donald Trump has made the workforce and economy central themes throughout his administration. The economy has been generally trending in a positive direction over the past couple of years, but there are still some notable problems. Hassett says the administration is looking to address the problems that still persist.
“The economy is growing by heightened expectations right now, and it’s growing at a solid and sustainable pace with low unemployment and low inflation,” Hassett testified during the hearing. “Markets appear to recognize the likelihood of continued growth with low inflation, with the major stock indices up substantially in the past year.”
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has also picked up significantly over the past year. It tracks the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that economic growth increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the second quarter of this year.
“The Trump administration is not satisfied with business as usual, nor with the pace of real output and income growth over the past several years,” Hassett said. “We put forth a program designed to boost the rate of real GDP growth. I’m happy to report the economy is doing well so far in 2017.”
Hassett does add that there are still problems throughout the economy that must be addressed. Workers have suffered from stagnant wages for years. Last month saw average wage growth improve slightly at 12 cents. The sluggish wage growth is contradictory to past trends which showed wages improved when there are less available people out of work.
“Looking back at the last few years it appears like real potential GDP growth is growing at about only a two percent annual rate,” Hassett said. “And real wage growth in America has stagnated. Over the last eight years, real median household income in the United States rose by an average of only six-tenths of a percent per year.”
Republicans have made tax reform their top priority following their earlier healthcare reform failure. They released a tax reform framework Sept. 27 highlighting their main tax reform objectives. Hassett notes that tax reform will play a critical role in helping to fix wage stagnation and improve economic growth.
“The relationship between corporate profits and worker compensations really broke down in the 1980s before any recent policy had the chance to interrupt that,” Hassett said. “That deteriorating relationship between the wages of American workers and U.S. corporate profits reflects the state of international tax competition more than anything else, I believe.”
The CEA found in an analysis Oct. 16 that the tax framework would increase average household income by $4,000 annually. The report notes those savings would come from the corporate rate reductions. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy countered in an earlier report that the plan would primarily benefit the wealthy while doing little for everyone else.